Study Explores Injury Risk and Medical Cost of Popular Team Sports

Wellesley, MA – The U.S. business group of Sun Life Financial Inc. projects that Washington athletes will make 57,542 emergency room visits this year due to sports injuries, nearly half experienced by athletes age 22 and younger.

By correlating sports injury rates to participation levels of amateur athletes, Sun Life projected the total number of emergency room visits caused by each of seven popular Washington team sports: baseball, basketball, football, ice hockey, soccer, softball and volleyball. The study also analyzed per person emergency room medical costs on a national basis for thirteen popular sports.

Sun Life conducted the study to educate workers and their employers about the risk and cost of sports injuries amidst the rising popularity of high deductible health insurance plans. Twenty percent of U.S. workers covered by employer-sponsored health insurance have a high deductible plan with a savings option, a five-fold increase in seven years.

  • Basketball is projected to send the most Washingtonians (approximately 21,000 out of 525,000 participants) to the emergency room this year, at an average per player medical cost of $3,764.
  • Football is projected to send the second highest number of Washingtonians (approximately 18,785 out of 221,000 participants) to the emergency room this year, at an average per player medical cost of $4,494.
  • Though soccer is the second most popular (306,000) of the seven team sports played in Washington, soccer comes in a distant third in injuries (8,568, at an average per player medical cost of $4,284), because its injury rate is relatively low, 2.8%.
  • Though over twice as many Washingtonians play basketball(525,000) than football (221,000), the two sports have nearly the same amount of ER injuries because the gridiron’s higher injury rate (8.5%) dwarfs basketball’s (4%).
  • A household has a fifty percent chance of experiencing an emergency room injury within five years if just a single family member plays football, ice hockey and soccer each year.
  • A household has a fifty percent chance of experiencing an emergency room injury within three years if family members play a total of seven team sports each year.

“A lot of Washingtonians end up in the emergency room each year due to sports injuries,” said Mark Ruybal, Sun Life’s Pacific Northwest Group Market Manager, Assistant Vice President of Distribution. “Medical treatment can easily run into the thousands of dollars, meaning a family with high deductible health insurance could be out $4,000 or more in aggregate deductibles before their insurance kicks in, while someone with single high deductible medical coverage might be out $2,000.”

Sun Life offers two Group and Voluntary Accident insurance plans, including a Preferred Plan, which offers a robust benefits schedule geared to employees with active lifestyles and families with athletes who play sports with higher rates of injury, and an Essential Plan, which offers a straightforward plan design and streamlined benefits schedule geared to younger workers and employees with low savings.

“As more workers adopt high deductible health insurance, we want people to understand how to protect themselves and their families against the financial risks of an injury,” said Brenda Randall, Sun Life’s Pacific Northwest Voluntary Benefits Practice Leader, “whether due to recreation or a random accident.”

For more information, see Sun Life Financial’s Sports Injury Highlights.


About Sun Life Accident Insurance
Accident insurance is a limited benefit coverage. It provides accident coverage only. It does not provide basic hospital, basic medical, or major medical insurance. The certificate has limitations and exclusions that may affect any benefits payable. Benefits payable are subject to all terms and obligations of the certificate. Sun Life’s Accident Insurance product is not available in all states. Benefits sales professionals should call their Sun Life group representative for more information.

About Sun Life Financial
Sun Life Financial is a leading international financial services organization providing a diverse range of protection and wealth accumulation products and services to individuals and corporate customers. The Sun Life Financial group of companies operates under the “Sun Life Financial” name strictly as a marketing name, and no legal significance is expressed or implied. Sun Life Financial and its partners today have operations in key markets worldwide, including Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Japan, Indonesia, India, China, Malaysia, Vietnam and Bermuda. In the United States and elsewhere, insurance products are offered by members of the Sun Life Financial group that are insurance companies. In the United States, Sun Life Financial provides a range of products and services to employers and their employees, including Group and Voluntary Accident, Critical Illness, Dental, Disability, Life, and Stop-Loss insurance products. Product offerings may not be available in all states and may vary depending on state laws and regulations. Sun Life Financial Inc., the holding company for the Sun Life Financial group of companies, is a public company. It is not an insurance company and does not offer insurance products for sale in the United States or elsewhere, and does not guarantee the obligations of its insurance company subsidiaries. Sun Life Financial Inc. trades on the Toronto (TSX), New York (NYSE), and Philippine (PSE) stock exchanges under the ticker symbol SLF. For more information, please visit

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